If you think there is nobody more off the mark than NY Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, better known to us writers as AOC because it's so much easier to write it, you need look no further than Ann Arbor, Michigan. It may be a long way from New York or Washington, but at the University of Michigan, you can find that lid that fits the pot that is AOC. His name is Juan Richard Cole, and he is teaching our kids there. That's a scarier thought than having AOC in Congress.
This week, AOC made the claim that the US is running concentration camps on our southern border. That invoked justified howls of outrage since concentration camps are traditionally places where the authorities and guards routinely beat, starve and torture prisoners (before killing them).
Yet, here comes comedian Juan Cole defending AOC's remarks with a posting on his preposterously-named blog, "Informed Comment" (see link under the Fiction Section of this site.)
Let's get serious for a moment after reading Cole's piece. One can argue about the definition of a concentration camp. There have been and still are such places in many dictatorial nations. One could argue about the proper designation of the internment camps where Japanese and Japanese-Americans were held during World War II. I have never condoned that internment, and have always condemned it. However, though the conditions were not ideal (in isolated parts of the West), there was no systematic mistreatment of the internees. There were no beatings, no torture, no starvation, no killings. Nor do these things happen in our detention facilities for illegal migrants.
As for what is happening with the illegal migrants coming across our border, it is not a good situation and our government and ICE acknowledge it. However, it is not a condition we created. We are overwhelmed with huge numbers of people including children crossing into the country illegally. Furthermore, the holding sites did not begin with the Trump administration. The Obama administration was doing it too, a fact conveniently overlooked by AOC and JRC.
Many Jews are upset with AOC for comparing our illegal migrant detention centers to concentration camps because to Jews, that automatically brings up images of places like Auschwitz. Ocasio-Cortez correctly points out that there was a distinction between the actual death camps like Auschwitz and concentration camps (like Dachau). The latter were established in Germany when Hitler took power for the purpose of holding political prisoners. These were places like Dachau, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen (all of which I have visited) and many others spread out around the country. At these places, prisoners were badly mistreated and murdered. When liberated, thousands of corpses were discovered by the Allies. Bergen-Belsen was where Anne Frank died during a typhus epidemic in the closing days and weeks of the war. The actual designated death camps, set up for the express purpose of killing Jews, were in occupied Poland. There were six, Auschwitz-Birkenau (which I have visited), Treblinka, Chelmno, Belzec, Majdanek, and Sobibor, where the process was systematic murder by gassing.
Ocasio-Cortez has stated that she recognizes the differences between concentration camps and the Nazi death camps, however, she herself brought up the term, "Never again" ("which means something"). Indeed. That itself brought it all back to comparing what we are doing on our southern border with what the Nazis did to the Jews. It is a statement based on pure ignoarance.
Not to be overlooked is Cole throwing out a 2008 indictment against Dick Cheney by a Texas grand jury in 2008 for allegedly being involved in a conspiracy to cover up mistreatment of prisoners.
"Among the most vocal critics of AOC's diction is Liz Cheney. The Cheneys may still own shares in private prison companies; her father Dick was indicted in 2008 for blocking investigations into prisoner mistreatment in those concentration camps."
Actually, it wasn't Cole who threw it out. It was a Texas judge who threw it out two weeks later. The judge also castigated the prosecutor for trying to bring such a frivolous prosecution in the first place. Cole neglected to tell us that, perhaps thinking we would assume the trial is still pending eleven years later. I imagine many of Cole's "informed" readers made just that inference. And see how Cole himself uses the term "concentration camps" in that sentence. Real concentration camps are places people are thrown and kept without charges, not prisons (state, federal or private) housing those who have been convicted of crimes and sentenced.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is an ignorant, 29-year-old barmaid who suddenly found herself in Congress thanks to some pretty dumb voters in her district. She could be forgiven for that ignorance. Juan Cole, on the other hand, is not 29 years old. He is a professor He should know better. By defending the hapless Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, he invites ridicule.